This *Almost* Makes “Baby Shark” Worth It

Try this.

See a parent sitting on a bench at a park, watching their kids climb up a slide (after giving up trying to remind them for the billionth time that people go DOWN slides not UP them…just me? Too personal?)

Tap this person on the shoulder and whisper “Bay…bee…SHARK”

There are three potential reactions:

  1. They ignore you, ya weirdo.
  2. They punch you in the face, ya creep.
  3. They respond “doo doo, doo doo da doo” (ya creepy weirdo!)

The Baby Shark song captivated toddlers who steal their parents’ phone while they are on a professional conference call and somehow figure out how to navigate YouTube without even knowing how to read! (Again…too personal?)

First released in 2015 by Pinkfong, it won’t leave. It stays with you forever, the definition of an earworm.

My two-year-old loves it – and the rest of the Pinkfong library, too. No joke, the content works in helping with language and learning.

On a recent episode of the Late Late Show with James Corden, we were blessed with the greatest version of the song yet, complete with Josh Groban and Sophie Turner.

How great was it? It almost makes having the song stuck in my head all day worth it.

Enjoy?!


 

Note: Image is a screen-grab from the Baby Shark YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqZsoesa55w

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The Force Is Strong In My Family

Star Wars is a big thing in our family. IMG_2855.jpg

We watch the movies. Read the books. Dress up in a family themed costume for Halloween (true story!).

I even have a few toy lightsabers in my office, hidden from the kids so they don’t destroy the house. (There is a pretty good chance I shadow-spar and make the iconic sounds on the regular.)

Our kids look at the lead characters as role models. Princess Leia. Luke Skywalker. Rey. Finn.

Generations of youth raging against the machine to make the world a better place. I dig it.

From Han Solo, Chewbacca, and R2D2 to Poe Dameron, Maz Kanata, and BB-8, from Darth Vader and the Emperor to Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke, these characters are part of our kids’ childhood.

I absolutely love sharing a pop culture universe with my children. I love that characters and stories that resonated with me also resonate with them. I love that the evolution of the series gives them “their” Star Wars that we can discover, discuss, and enjoy together. (I still believe that Rey is a Kenobi.)

Much like Luke, Leia, Rey, and Finn, our kids will have a choice about what kind of impact they want to have on the world. Rebellion or Empire. Light or Dark. Good or Evil.

And hopefully the messages of empowerment, hope, and love will guide them in the right direction.

Paraphrasing Luke in Return of the Jedi, the Force is strong in our family. I have it. My wife has it. Our kids have it.

 

 

 

What’s Your Favorite Truck, Dad? Optimus Prime

Over the past few months, we’ve done something creative at dinnertime.

Our two oldest kids are 5 1/2 and nearly 4 – certainly able to carry a conversation.

So, in the vein of late night talk shows, each night they get to host their own chat show to interview the rest of the family, complete with an announcer (Daddy) giving them an introduction Ed McMahon would envy. #DatedReference

You can imagine the adorably painful conversations at the beginning. One evening, The Best Mom and I had to answer, “what is your favorite color” five times, even saying the next question HAD to be different.

But over time, the questions became better and led to what we hoped it would be: a deeper dinner conversation beyond “how was your day” and a way to fuel their curiosity and confidence.

My son asked me an innocent question one night last week and my answer was reflexive:

Bug: Daddy, what is your favorite truck?

Me: Optimus Prime!

I knew he was expecting “dump truck” or “fire engine,” but, dammit, Optimus Prime, Transformer, leader of the Autobots, is my all-time favorite truck!

Long-haul trailer by-day and galactic superhero on-call?

Please, tell me which truck is better than Optimus Prime?

800px-optimus-prime-earth-wars-jpg

Here is where it got good.

Instead of blowing off the comment as another silly thing Daddy said, Bug asked a follow-up question(!): “What is an Optimus Prime?”

That kicked off a 20-minute conversation with my kids on the Transformers, including watching (several times) an animation of Optimus Prime transforming from truck to robot and back again.

A few days later, we were driving on the highway and my daughter started asking me if every truck we passed by was a Transformer. Granted, it got old after 4 trucks, but it felt amazing that my kids were now curious about one of my favorite childhood brands.

It’s a delicate balance – you push your favorites on them by saying “Watch this, I loved it when I was your age!” and you’ll likely get a fairly negative response. Guide them to being interested in it and their perspective changes entirely.

Next up: Figuring out solutions for Fraggle Rock and Thundercats!

batman day

Happy #BatmanDay!

batman daySuperheroes are kind of a big deal in my house.

Growing up, my uncle owned a comic book store, so it was easy to follow the escapades of my favorite characters.

I gravitated to the DC Universe, one filled with pure fantasy and imagination. Time travel. Aliens. Mythology. While I’ve always appreciated the Marvel line, it was never my #1.

Batman was an anomaly compared to Superman (my all-time favorite fictional character), Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the rest. His parents were shot and killed when he was a boy, leaving him all alone in a dark world. The future Dark Knight trained himself to be a one-man crime-fighting machine, grappling with Gotham City’s most dangerous villains.

His superpower was his grit, determination, and creativity, fueled by a desire for justice.

A self-made hero in a world where most heroes are born with powers or acquire them through an accident. That definitely stood out to me.

I love getting to share the love of these characters with my children. Bug asked to wear a Batman t-shirt today…and when I found out that today is #BatmanDay, how could I refuse?

What comic book character impacted you the most as a kid?

 

 

It’s a Beautiful Day in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

dtn-dynamic-515.jpgI’ve been fortunate, over the course of my career, to work on some pretty amazing projects. Many of them have been integral to my professional and personal growth. And one holds a very special place in my heart.

It was a thrill to play a VERY small role in the launch of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids several years ago.

Before I got to work on it, I fell in love with it.

I saw an 11-minute preview at SXSW breakfast in 2012, when Beanie was not even a year old. While this was a new show, it was effectively a sequel to one of my favorites, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And, let’s be honest, Fred Rogers was THE standard bearer of educational television. So a show inspired by his work had a a huge responsibility to carry on that legacy.

Daniel Tiger and all of his friends, you see, are the next generation of the puppets in the Land of Make Believe. Even the theme music was derived from the original show.

It was easy to feel the heart of the show – it was so familiar, but updated for kids of today. I can put on episodes of Fraggle Rock, and my kids intuitively know it was not made for THEM, but rather for their ancient father. [I’ll make them Fraggle fans, if it’s the last thing I do!]

Following that SXSW event, I worked with the PBS Kids team on the social media strategy around the launch. Like I said, I played a small part. But enough to gain a lifelong rooting interest in the show.

Over the past few years, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has become required viewing for our entire family. We’ve watched it with all of our kids. We have “action figures” of the characters that are a bath time favorite. And we even have one of Daniel Tiger’s signature red sweaters!

We constantly sing the “musical strategies” that help kids learn processes and deal with emotions. And we’ve even created a few of our own along the way.

All of this is pretext for how amazing it is that the methodology behind the show has been proven to be a massive success.

New research from Texas Tech connected preschoolers who watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to having enhanced social and emotional skills.

The kicker is that the development comes when parents and children talk about the show. So many kid shows are hard for parents to watch. Strange storylines, poor character development, lack of any educational merit — these all make it hard to sit and watch a show with your kids, let alone have a meaningful conversation about it afterwards.

However, Daniel Tiger is the opposite of it. The show is so warm and welcoming – and digestible with 11-minute segments centered around a key lessons and musical themes – that its impossible to have it on and NOT watch it.

Beanie has been less interested in the show in recent months – and Bug is influenced by Beanie – so we haven’t had it on as much. However, we explained to the kids that they need to watch the show so they can talk to their little brother about it. And now they ask to watch it when Squish is not around.

I love this show. I love what it’s doing for families. And I’m excited I get to share it with one more kid.